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We don’t have anything against TV — it’s cable we don’t like! That’s why we dedicate so much time to telling you about all the ways you can watch TV without cable. We’ve covered the best methods for watching TV without cable on mobile devices, streaming platforms, and more. Now we’re here to tell you how to watch live TV on a Mac computer.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to stream live TV on a Mac:
Computers are the original streaming devices. Before Netflix was streaming movies and TV shows, the internet was streaming viral and user-made videos on sites like eBaum’s World and Facebook. We can now stream TV and movies on almost any device, but it still pays to know how to stream the latest and greatest TV and movies on our trusty laptops and desktops. Below, we’ll lay out all the services and techniques you need to know about.
If you’re a regular reader of CordCutting.com, you know we primarily talk about two things when it comes to watching TV without cable: live TV streaming “skinny bundles” and free over-the-air (OTA) TV.
Live TV streaming services get their “skinny bundle” nickname from the slimmed-down channel packages they often (but not always) offer, which are more cost-effective than the ones offered by cable and satellite companies. The most important difference between a live TV streaming service and a cable package is that a live TV streaming service streams online — kind of like Netflix, only for live TV.
Since skinny bundles live online, you can use them to watch live TV without cable on all sorts of devices, including, of course, Mac computers. The first few services listed below are skinny bundles.
It may be less obvious how free over-the-air TV can help Mac users, but we’ll explain. We’ll also cover other streaming services that will give you access to certain live TV channels and broadcasts. Here’s how to watch live TV on Apple computers running MacOS.
Stream live TV on a Mac with DIRECTV Stream
AT&T's skinny-bundle service, DIRECTV Stream, offers lots of great live TV channels, and it works wonderfully on Mac via its in-browser app. And no, you aren’t imagining it: The service was formerly known as AT&T TV, but AT&T spun off the brand and renamed it DIRECTV Stream. It may have a new moniker, but DIRECTV Stream pricing remains reasonable.
Stream live TV on a Mac for free with Philo
If you want to watch live TV on the cheap, Philo is a fantastic option. The service’s goal is to make the most affordable skinny bundle possible, and it succeeds admirably. The deal with Philo is that it mostly sheds the local channels and sports-centric networks that tend to drive up the cost of cable bundles. Sports fans and folks who care a lot about local TV may want to look elsewhere, but others will likely find Philo’s bundles very appealing.
Stream live TV on a Mac for free with Hulu
Hulu + Live TV is the skinny-bundle arm of the popular on-demand streaming service Hulu. Hulu’s live offerings are pretty solid; you’ll find a host of familiar channels such as ABC and ESPN. A Hulu + Live TV subscription will also get you access to all of Hulu’s on-demand content.
Stream live TV on a Mac for free with fuboTV
fuboTV offers a ton of great channels, which makes it a great way to stream live TV on a Mac. At one point, it marketed itself mostly to soccer fans, but it’s now a more general streaming service that promises lots of movies and shows to watch even if you’re not a sports fanatic. Our fuboTV review can tell you more about what to expect.
Stream live TV on a Mac with Sling TV
Sling TV is all about the add-ons. After grabbing a base package, you can build out the skinny bundle of your dreams by adding the “extras” you most desire. Want sports? Sports Extra will give you sports, and nothing but sports. There’s no need to pay for what you don’t want when you opt for Sling TV.
Stream live TV on a Mac with ESPN+
The bad news: ESPN Plus does not offer a live feed of ESPN or ESPN2. It does offer live sports, though, so it’s still a good way to watch live TV on a Mac. It also has Major League Soccer’s league streaming service, MLS Live, rolled right into it — not to mention loads of hockey coming in 2021 and 2022. Throw in lots of good on-demand content, and you have a pretty cool service. No wonder we loved it in our ESPN Plus review.
Stream live TV on a Mac with Paramount+
Paramount Plus is, in some respects, a continuation of CBS All Access. It’s a more expansive service than its predecessor, though, since it offers more shows from a wider range of channels. You can watch Paramount Plus on a variety of devices, including a Mac. Our Paramount Plus review can provide more details.
YouTube TV is Google’s take on the live TV multichannel service. It streams dozens of channels, and it will work great on your Mac computer. Our YouTube TV review can give you the complete scoop.
Free over-the-air TV is the free TV you can pick up with an antenna. Plug an antenna into your TV and presto — you’ll have live feeds of local broadcast stations, which may include ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and more.
There’s no computer in that equation, so why are we talking about OTA TV? Because you can use a computer to take your OTA TV to the next level. Just as there are PC TV tuners for PCs, there are Mac TV tuners that will give your Mac the power to interpret your antenna’s signals. You can even use your computer as an OTA DVR.
You can also use a separate OTA DVR — such as a Tablo device — to make your OTA TV into streamable content you can watch on your Mac.
It's not a skinny bundle, but MLB.TV is another great way to watch live TV on a Mac. It’s the best of the league streaming services, which are run by major sports leagues and allow fans to watch live games as if they had cable. The catch: You’ll only get games that aren’t on cable in your region, and you’ll only get regular-season matchups.
The NBA’s version of the league streaming service works just as you’d expect. It offers single-team packages, plus a rarer feature: single-game packages, perfect for catching that one out-of-market game you just don’t want to miss.
The NHL’s version of the league streaming service offers live feeds of out-of-market regular-season games. It’s yet another great way to watch live TV on a Mac.
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